South Africans generosity puts paid to inhumane conditions faced by crew of abandoned vessels in Durban: SAMSA

Pretoria: 17 February 2022

It will be a while, if ever again, that crew of a set of vessels reportedly abandoned at the port of Durban will face inhumane conditions, largely characterised by starvation – thanks to the generosity of South Africans during the last month that has ensured them enough food and other necessities supplies.

This is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) seafarers’ welfare office in Durban, which together with two other non-governmental organisations, the Mission to Seafarers and Meals on Wheels SA set the alarm in January after the 18 crew members were found to be starving on board the three vessels which have been declared abandoned by the IMO in January 2022.

The vessels involved, two of them – the PSD2 and PSD104 are sister offshore supply vessels that are both Tanzanian flagged, while the third, the MT Fairy Tale – is a Belize registered tanker.

The MT Fairy Tale and the PSD2 had been at the port of Durban for over five years while the third (the PSD104, the second of the Tanzanian registered) had docked at the port in January 2022. The seafarers on board include 11 Indians, one (1) Iranian and six (6) Bangladeshi nationals.

Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare.

According to SAMSA Manager for Occupational Health, Safety and Seafarers’ Welfare, Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe, not only did groups of South Africans respond positively, speedily, with donations that have ensured enough food and other necessities supplies, but the widely publicised plight of both the seafarers as well as the vessels themselves drew attention of both the owners as well as the Indian government’s attention.

Support was also being received from the International Transport Federation (ITF) which had assisted the crew members arrest the vessels, anyhow, following complaints from the crew, and which matter was now set for the courts, according to SAMSA.

 “The media has really helped put pressure on the owners,” said Mr Rantsoabe, adding: “They have been coming on board trying to reach settlements with the crew and telling them they saw the story in the media. One of them was very embarrassed about the diesel story and started providing diesel and he had not done so in five (5) months.

More food supplies to crew members of abandoned vessels at the port of Durban donated by a local community group, Newlands Diwali Festival (Photo: SAMSA)

“The crew are now also able to contact their families through the generosity of the Mission to Seafarers who provided them with Wi-Fi routers.

“The International Transport Federation has also provided money for food via the Mission to Seafarers, which is used to supplement whatever is provided by the two charity organisations.

“At the moment the seafarers are very grateful and feel that they have enough food to last them through February. The ITF has also procured fuel for the two vessels that can take fuels, which will help run the engine and generators.

“We have also received calls from charity organisations such as NEDFEST… (such that) presently food supplies will not be an issue again for this crew,” he said.  

Their movement outside the vessels was still restricted, however, and therefore not allowed to leave the port. The difficulty said Mr Rantsoabe; was with the fact that the vessels did not have Port Agents who assume official direct responsibility for vessels and crew once in the country’s ports.

However, SAMSA facilitated a dialogue with the port authorities (Port Health, Immigration, SAPS, TNPA) who in the end, working jointly together with Shipmed and Mission to Seafarers; made the vaccination of all the seafarers possible on Wednesday last week (09 February 2022). They were transported under SAPS escort to a vaccination clinic.

“They were all smiles after vaccination,” said Mr Rantsoabe

Some of crew members of the abandoned vessels at port of Durban pictured while they were all taken to a local city clinic for their Covid-19 vaccination. Prominent in their company is the Rev.Fr Thami Tembe of the Mission to Seafarers. (Photo: SAMSA)

Mr Rantsoabe further reported that a week ago, he and SAMSA Durban region Principal Officer, Captain Gqwetha Mkhize accompanied a team from the Indian Consulate to the PSD2 and PSD104 vessels. “They stated they will be putting pressure to the Flag State and the owners’ country using diplomatic means (State to State basis).”

Abandoned vessels’crew pictured while being visited by Indian Consulate officials in the company of SAMSA senior officers, Durban office Principal Officer, Capt. Gqwetha Mkhize and OHS& Seafarers Welfare manager, Mr Sibusiso Rntsoabe a week ago (Photo: SAMSA)

On how long it can take to have both the situation of the crew and vessels resolved, Mr Rantsoabe said: “Unfortunately that question is difficult to answer. Normally once SAMSA gets involved things move quickly and the company pays.

“Detention does work because the owners normally want to get the ship out of the port as soon as possible. However, in the case of the Fairy Tale there is no hurry. The vessel is not going anywhere unless somebody buys it. So as SAMSA we can fine and detain but detaining a vessel that does not intend moving out becomes just a futile exercise, especially when owners pay the fines, but detention remains.

Capt. Vernon Keller, SAMSA Deputy Chief Operations Officer.

Remarking on the latest developments regarding the crew of the vessels, SAMSA deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller applauded the effort of all those involved, including the role the media played in sharing the plight of the seafarers, but added that as far SAMSA was concerned; “it is an amazing effort by the SAMSA team…but our job is not done.”

Said Capt. Keller; “Our seafarers kept this world moving forward throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, transporting essential cargoes around the world, yet seafarers struggled to let the world understand that they are essential workers.

“They were forced to spend more time onboard their vessels unable to go home, some even lost their family members and could do nothing about it.  The psychological effect that this pandemic had on the seafarer will be studied for years to come.

“As an ex-seafarer, it pains me to know that there are still seafarers who are being treated even worse than during the pandemic by unscrupulous ship owners and managers. Administrations should stand up across the world and say enough is enough. If these seafarers were airline crew, the world would stand up and listen, so why are we not affording seafarers the same respect. Seafarers have truly become the forgotten few.

End

IMO Council seat loss disappoints South Africa: SAMSA

South Africa’s representative at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Seassion that began on December 06 in London,, Mr Sipho Mbata, casting a vote during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council on Friday (10 December). South Africa lost its seat during the elections.

Pretoria: 15 December 2021

South Africa’s failure to retain its seat in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council last Friday, coupled with Nigeria’s failed effort to gain a seat, has come as a significant disappointment for the country.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) following the country’s loss of its seat during elections of the IMO’s 40-member Council for the 2022-2023 biennium in London last week.

South Africa, along with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and Morocco were the five African IMO Member States and candidates vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member council. Egypt, Morocco, and Kenya retained their seats.

Reacting to the development at the weekend, SAMSA said it was disappointed for South Africa following Friday’s IMO Council elections. SAMSA, a State agency operating under the Department of Transport, works closely with the department and relevant others in terms of IMO related matters. SAMSA and DOT officials often travel to the IMO in London where they serve of different IMO committees and South Africa also has a permanent representative at the organisation.

However, both DoT and SAMSA officials could not make it to London this time around for this year’s IMO 32nd Regular Session of the Assembly where the IMO Council was elected, due to strict travel conditions related to the recent and currently ongoing resurgence of Covid-19 pandemic infections across the world.

The United Kingdom immediately placed South Africa on its travel ‘red list’ shortly after the announcement by South Africa health scientists of the discovery in South Africa of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19.

Thus, on Friday, senior DoT officials inclusive of the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga; Acting Director-General, Mr Mthunzi Madiya supported by staff from Maritime Branch as well as SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and Head of SAMSA Corporate Affairs, Mr Vusi September; gathered at a Pretoria venue to participate virtually during the IMO Assembly session from Monday last week.

Leading to Friday’s IMO Council elections, South Africa was cautiously optimistic it would retain its seat on the Council. However, when the vote outcome was eventually announced in London late afternoon, there was visible disappointment among all the officials gathered in Pretoria for the event.

For limited highlights of Friday’s event in London and Pretoria, click on the video below.

A brief overview of last week Friday’s IMO Council (Category C Candidates) vote and the reaction from South Africa

In the aftermath, with a formal country reaction statement expected from Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula; SAMSA’s acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Mashiloane expressed disappointment insofar as SAMSA was concerned.

“For SAMSA, it is just to say that we are deeply disappointed by the outcome of the IMO Council vote, but even so, we will continue supporting the IMO work and ensure that we continue with our concerted efforts in respective committees to advance the African approach with respect to implementation of IMO Conventions we have acceded to. So, emphasis will be enhancing our work in Legal, Technical Committes, MSC and MEPC,” she said.

After the conclusion of the elections, the IMO congratulated the 40 Member States that were voted to constitute the Council for 2022-2023 biennium as follows:

  1. Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order)

China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States

  • Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

  • Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world:

Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Vanuatu.

The IMO statement further said: “The newly elected Council will meet, following the conclusion of the 32nd Assembly, for its 126th session (on 15 December) and will elect its Chair and Vice-Chair for the next biennium.”

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IMO COUNCIL ELECTIONS: South Africa optimistic of retaining her seat during the highly contested elections on Friday.

Pretoria: 09 December 2021

With only a day to go before the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 176 Member States gathered in London this week, and next; for the 32nd Regular Session of their Assembly, decide on who among 49 countries vying for election will constitute its IMO Council on Friday, South Africa remains cautiously optimistic to retain its seat.

South Africa, located at the most southern tip of the African continent with approximately 3000km of a coastline stretching across three oceans, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Southern Ocean to the south and the Indian Ocean to the east – and therefore holding a globally significant geographic maritime position – is among a group of five countries from the continent vying for a seat in the IMO 40-member Council for the 2021-23 period.

The others are Egypt, Morocco (Mediterranean), Kenya (Indian Ocean), and Nigeria (Atlantic Ocean). Voting for the 40 member IMO council takes place on Friday, using an in-person-private vote system.

South Africa, one of the founding members of the IMO but subsequently suspended from active membership for many years until 1995 submits that it is optimistic, however, cautiously; that it will retain its seat.

According to its submission to members of the IMO Assembly this week, its optimism arises from its consistent, active participation in especially the technical work of the IMO, this in addition to its being a “State Party to the key IMO Conventions that promote safety, security and the protection of the marine and atmospheric environment.”

Among these are the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS); the Marine Environment Protection Convention (MARPOL) and the Search and Rescue Convention.”

The port of Cape Town, one of South African commercial ports spread almost evenly across the country’s approximately 3000km coastline, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean,

South Africa states: “The Government of the Republic of South Africa is convinced that South Africa’s re-election to the Council will further contribute to the ongoing efforts towards the achievement of the goals of the International Maritime Organization (MO).”

These include safety of property and life at sea, protection of the environment from pollution by ships, as well as active promotion of the maritime sector domestically, regionally and globally – all mandated through legislation to a strategically located agency, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to discharge, under the watchful eye of the national Department of Transport.

With eight specialised commercial ports and several small vessels harbours spread across the coastline from the border of Namibia to the west (Atlantic Ocean) to Mozambique in the east (Indian Ocean) – variously catering to an ever-growing global trade cargo, marine tourism and academic research fleet of vessels of various sizes – the country’s active and continuous contribution to IMO activities remains vital.

Delegates of countries that are members of the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understandinng during ther annual general meeting in Cape Town in 2020

South Africa is also a part of the western Indian Ocean regions that contain 14 major commercial ports – seven of her own (Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Ngqura, East London, Durban and Richards Bay (South Africa) as well as those in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Maputo, Beira, Nacala, Quelimane, Pemba (Mozambique), and Mombasa (Kenya). These serve as hubs for traffic emanating from, and destined for, Europe, Asia, the Americas and the east and west coast of Africa.

In addition to the large cargo ships traveling internationally, the country says; many smaller boats serving local needs ply the coastal waters and harbours and, in the process, adding to the considerable navigation risks faced by large ships.

In its submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session ahead of Friday’s IMO Council Elections, the country states: “South Africa as a fully democratic country continues to be an active and loyal member of the International Maritime Organization. The Government of South Africa is very keen to continuously work with the IMO towards promotion of safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.

“South Africa has developed domestic legislation to implement the adopted Conventions and such pieces of legislation include the South African Maritime Safety Authority Act, 1998. The Act establishes SAMSA as an agency of government charged with the responsibility to promote safety of shipping; protect the marine and atmospheric environment and promote South Africa’s maritime interests.”

Senior Department of Transport officials during a visit of the South African Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in Cape Town in 2020

To this end, South Africa boasts among other things; a dedicated Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC) that positions her as a regional leader in terms of hosting state-of-the-art search and rescue infrastructure and services for the Southern African Region:

“As a coastal State, we manage and maintain a system of AIDS to navigation including lighthouses, a fully-fledged Marine Hydrographic Service, as well as Emergency Response Capacity, which includes a Search and Rescue Centre, Emergency Towing Vessel, Information and Communication Systems.

“These systems give assurance to international shipping on the safety of shipping along the SA coastline as well as supports the entire Southern African Region.

“Our search and rescue region extend to Antarctica and our LRIT Data Centre caters for more countries in the region. We have over the years fully discharged our duty of ensuring order at sea by all the systems we have put in place, including our anti-piracy initiative in the Mozambique Channel.

Delegates from 22 African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean during a four day conference in Cape Town in 2019 under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) led Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern African (GI-WACAF) Project.

“South Africa (also) became a member COSPAS/ SARSAT programme since May 2001, and the system in Cape Town detects on a yearly average 607 Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons (EPIRBS) that transmit on 121.5 MHz. Detection of the modern and new technology 406 MHz beacons is 4 increasing and at the moment, the averages are 200 detections per annum, and this is based on the information passed on to South Africa.

Alongside that aspect of work, SAMSA conducts inspections on foreign vessels visiting her ports and regionally, the country works in tandem with neighbouring countries conjoined by their borderline access to the affected oceans. South Africa is a member of two port state control regimes; the Indian Ocean Memorandum of Understanding and the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding.

It is also notable that South Africa was the first country worldwide to formally implement the International Labour Organisation (ILO) inspired and driven Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 (No. 188) – a pioneering position that has since led to her consulting extensively with other countries still at early stages of the convention’s implementation.

Delegates from three South East Asian countries – Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand during a week long visit to South Africa in 2019 to glean the country’s experience with the implementation of the ILO C188 Convention.

At this year’s General Assembly, South Africa is backing fully the IMO General Assembly’s adoption of entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement. In her submission South Africa says that in terms of current arrangements, for the Agreement to be in force, at least 22 States with an aggregate number of the qualifying fishing vessels must ratify/accede to it.

To date, 16 States with an aggregated fleet of 1907 eligible fishing vessels have ratified the instrument.

South Africa’s view is that: “South Africa, as the host of the International Conference on the Safety of Fishing Vessels held in Cape Town in 2012 and signed the Agreement and the 2019 Torremolinos Declaration, supports the adoption of the draft resolution on the entry into force and implementation of the Agreement.

“The entry into force of the Agreement will increase safety standards on fishing vessel design, construction and equipment will also positively impact the working conditions of fishing vessel personnel and the safety of the search and rescue and emergency response services in mitigating the consequences of fishing vessel casualties. Furthermore, the Agreement will assist in the prevention of marine pollution, including plastic pollution, from fishing vessels and in combatting IUU fishing.”

In addition, from a global marine law perspective, South Africa has a long tradition with the Maritime Law Association of South Africa populated by some of the world respected jurists, thereby ensuring that its maritime arbitration capability is one of the well-respected in the world.”

The country states: “South Africa can therefore, with its strategic position at the tip of the continent straddling three oceans, coupled with our well-established technical capability and skills base, make a meaningful contribution to the activities of the IMO Council in service to international shipping.

Delegates from 25 countries that are signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) at an International Maritime Organization (IMO) three day workshop in Durban in November 2018

On global collaboration in general, South Africa was due to host the World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020 but the IMO had to postpone the event due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The outgoing IMO Council had, however, approved retaining South Africa as host of the event in 2022 conditional to the COVID-19 pandemic trends.

During this year’s IMO Assembly, South Africa also intends to sign the Jeddah Amendment to Djibouti Code of Conduct (the Code) with the IMO Secretary General. The Code aims to suppress transnational organised crime and other illegal activities at sea.

On the elections of the new IMO Council for 2022-2023 biennium , while South Africa remains optimistic of retaining her seat, should things go completely awry for some inexplicable reason, the country may still stand a chance of returning to serve in the council as currently there is a proposal before the IMO Assembly to expand the council’s membership from 40 seats to 52.

The proposal, which South Africa has given her support, further calls for the IMO Council’s term of office to be extended from two (years) to four (years).

In her submission to the IMO Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently underway, South Africa states that: “South Africa would like to support the draft amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the IMO Convention and the associated draft Assembly resolution.

“We believe that the expansion of members to the IMO Council will ensure that there is diversity, geographical spread and representation of the interests of all IMO Member States.”

End

Women firmly taking centre stage in maritime sector globally – IMO to celebrate them annually

IMO meeting hall, London (Photo: Courtesy of IMO)

Pretoria: 07 December 2021

Technological advancements in global shipping and related activity in the maritime sector, along with the global impacts of the rampant unseizing spread of the Covid-19 may remain central to discussions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 175 Member States General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session currently on – in a hybrid format – from London; however, women empowerment in the sector also remains central.

That’s at least according to the immediate past president of the Assembly, Ms Nomatemba Tambo – currently South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and the country’s permanent representative at the IMO.

According to the IMO, citing a BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report, women represent only 1.2% (or 24,059) of the global seafarer workforce. However, the IMO says that while this may seem miniscule in comparative terms, in actual fact, “..this represents a positive trend in gender balance” as it reflects a 45.8% increase compared with 2015 figures. 

Currently, the IMO working in conjunction with the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA International) is conducting a global maritime industry survey intended to “obtain baseline data on the number of women in maritime and oceans fields and the positions they occupy.”

The plan, say the IMO and WISTA; “…is to repeat the survey every three years…..our aim (being) to support implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by having comparable data that will assist us in creating programmes and proposing policies that will increase the participation of women in maritime.

“This will help promote a more diverse and inclusive environment in our sector. We will publish a report on the aggregate numbers that will be available to all interested parties.”

Ms Nomatemba Tambo, outgoing President of the IMO General Assembly (Regular Session) is South Africa’s permanent representatives at the IMO and the country’s HIgh Commissioners to the United Kingdom.

In her final presidential speech reflecting on work of the IMO over the past two years, on Monday Ms Tambo applauded the international organisation for formally endorsing the establishment of a dedicated day to celebrate women directly, annually, in the maritime sector, beginning next May.

She said: “I ….commend the IMO for declaring 18 May as the International Day for Women in Maritime. This is a great step in celebrating women’s efforts and their contribution to the maritime and shipping industry. I believe that this initiative will succeed in raising the profile of women, removing the barriers of entry and addressing gender imbalance faced by women in the maritime and shipping sector.”

The IMO Council agreed on the establishment of the dedicated day for women in maritime at its November 2020 meeting and now, it’s due for formal adoption as a resolution by the General Assembly currently gathered in London for its 32nd Regular Session, beginning Monday this week through to Wednesday next week.

From a South Africa pespective, the development is partly a direct result of the IMO’s inclusion of more female officials in its governance structures, as exemplified by Ms Tambo’s ascendancy two years ago to the presidency of the organisation’s General Assembly.

South Africa, one of several southern and eastern African countries involved in an initiative to relaunch the Women in Maritime Sector in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA), but rescheduled due to South Africa’s inability last October (2020) to host the IMO General Assemby Parallel Event billed for Durban owing to the global oubreak of Covid-19, views Ms Tambo’s contribution in the maritime sector as pioneering.

Ms Tambo’s two-year reign ended on Monday with the election of Philippines’ permanent representative to the IMO, Mr Mr Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo as the successor. However, his 1st Deputy is yet another Southern Africa woman, Ms Linda Scot of Namibia.

Effectively, this means that two women, both of Southern Africa will have been at the helm of the IMO General Assembly for a combined four years both as President and deputy President respectively and successively – a historical record to date.

Ms Tambo remains South Africa’s permanent representative at the IMO.

On the establishment of a dedicated maritime women’s day, last November, the IMO Council’s explanation of its decision was that; “Once adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, the observance will celebrate women in the industry, promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime, strengthen IMO’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime.”

The development immediately received praise from the IMO’s Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim. “I welcome the Council’s adoption of this proposal.  Not only does it further efforts to achieve SDG 5 on gender equality, but it is a perfect follow-on action to the IMO Assembly’s resolution and call to achieve a barrier-free environment for women, so that all women can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community, including seafaring and shipbuilding.” said Mr Lim at the time

After being formally endorsed this week by the General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session members, the day will feature prominently among the global maritime sector’s annual calendar that already includes a Day of the Seafarer (June) and a World Maritime Day (October).

In the meantime, in his opening remarks of the IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session in London on Monday, Mr Lim confirmed that the 2022 World Maritime Day will be “New technologies for Greener Shipping”. This year’s World Maritime Theme was: “Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future

End

IMO bi-annual 32nd General Assembly (regular session) kicks off in London – Africa in the thick of it!

The start of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) bi-annual General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session in London on Monday (SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 07 December 2021

The start of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) General Assembly’s 32nd Regular Session, held as a hybrid model, in London on Monday marked both a low point and watershed moment for South Africa – the latter as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the former owing to its expected weighty contribution in this session.

The Assembly – traditionally meeting once every two years – is the highest governing body of the IMO, responsible for approving the international body’s work programme and budget, determining its financial arrangements and electing the IMO Council.

Durban, South Africa; was billed to be the next host of the 175 Member IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event in 2020, but that was postponed due to the outbreak globally of the Covid-19 pandemic, and whose grip remains tight in many countries across the world even this year. That effectively robbed South Africa of the opportunity of hosting the prestigious event on its home soil, and the African continent, for the first time ever.

However, on the upside, it has emerged that South Africa may still host the event in 2022.

South Africa, – a founding member of the IMO in 1959 but whose membership was then suspended during the apartheid era and only readmitted during the dawn of democracy in 1995 – plays a highly significant role as an IMO Member State from the African continent, inclusive of holding membership of the IMO’s 40 Member Council, thereby currently placing among only four maritime countries holding membership of the body from the African continent.

South Africa holds a Category C level membership of the IMO Council, along with the Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.

As it were, at this year’s gathering that began in London early on Monday, South Africa lived up to its reputation as a significant contributor at the IMO, playing a critical role in the nomination process of the next IMO Assembly regular session President, by lending its full weight behind a United Kingdom proposal of Mr Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo of the Philippines as the next President of the IMO Assembly. Other supporters were Peru and Turkey.

With his election confirmed, Mr Lagadmeo will succeed a South African, and the first woman from the country to hold the position of an IMO General Assembly President; Ms Nomatemba Tambo, after her election to the position in December 2019. She was and remains South Africa’s High Commissioner to the UK since 2018.

South Africa Transport Ministry Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga during the IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Session that started in London on Monday and due to last until next Thursday

Leading South Africa representation at Monday’s first sitting of the IMO General Assembly was the country’s national Transport Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga who during the first plenary at about lunchtime, announced the country’s support of the UK’s choice of Mr Ladgameo – an ambassador and permanent representative of the Philippines at the IMO – as the IMO’s next General Assembly president.

In her brief remarks announcing the country’s secondment of the nomination, said Ms Chikunga: “The resume presented by the distinguished delegate of the United Kingdom gives us the sense of comfort and confidence that His Excellency Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo has the required skills and expertise to preside over this important session of the Assembly successfully. On that note, Madam President, South Africa humbly second the nomination of His Excellency Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo as the President of this 32nd regular session of the Assembly.”

For Ms Chikunga’s brief remarks, click on the video below

Later, in her congratulatory message of Mr Ladgameo’s formal confirmation as president, Ms Chikunga said: “South Africa would like to congratulate His Excellency, Mr Antonio Manuel Lagdameo of the Philippines for elected as the President of the 32nd regular session of the Assembly. We have no doubt that he will lead this session with success and distinction.”

South Africa further delighted also in the election of Ms Linda Scot of Namibia as the 1st Vice President of the Assembly. Acknowledging her also as one of South Africa’s own – a claim based on Ms Scot’s academic education obtained at the Universities of the Free State and Cape Town – Ms Chikunga described the moment as a reaffirmation of “our role and commitment of the SADC to enhance the blue/oceans economy.”

South Africa also congratulated Mr Raphael of Italy as the 2nd VP, with Ms Chikunga stating that: “…we have no doubt that these two distinguished nominations will be of great assistance to the President of the 32nd regular session of the Assembly.

South Africa’s delegation to the last IMO General Assembly’s 31 Regular Session, led by South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula (Front Centre) during which Ms Nomatemba Tambo (Front: Right), South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdowm, was elected the General Assembly’s President. Her term ended this week

She added: “Madam President, South Africa would also want to take this opportunity and thank all the IMO Member States for electing the High Commissioner of South Africa to the United Kingdom, Her Excellency, Ms Nomatemba Tambo in 2019 as the President of the 31st regular session of the Assembly. Your tenure as the President of the 31st regular session befitted the 2019 theme of the IMO of “Empowering women in the maritime community”.

“We are most grateful to the IMO Member States and the Secretary-General who offered this prestigious opportunity to South Africa to preside over the last Assembly.”

South Africa’s Ms Nomatemba Tambo, the country’s HIgh Commissioner to the United Kingdom and IMO General Assembly’s Regular Session’s outgoing president

Meanwhile, in her remarks as the outgoing president of the IMO’s General Assemby, Ms Tambo reiterated the country’s full commitment to ensuring that work and programmes of the IMO are fully supported both by South Africa and the continent.

Expressing her own gratitude for the opportunity she had leading the IMO General Assembly, said Ms Tambo: “South Africa is a country with special interest in maritime transport and is strategically located in one of the major shipping routes. It is surrounded by three oceans: the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and Atlantic Ocean. 

“South Africa continues be a good partner with the IMO and as well as in the Djibouti Code of Conduct system to deter and curb the spread of piracy to our sub-region. In this regard, South Africa maintains the deployment of military craft along the Mozambique Channel as a deterrence against the spread of piracy, armed robbery and human trafficking. 

“This record of accomplishment of providing the port services to ships calling our ports, excellent coastal state services and search and rescue capabilities in the region are of critical importance to the mandate of the IMO and international shipping.

She added: “For my country, South Africa, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all Member States for your confidence in electing me in 2019 as the President of the 31st regular session of the Assembly. 

Next up for South Africa this week will be the election of Members of the IMO Council on Friday morning, an event during which the country is vying to ensure that it retains its Council membership and status.

The IMO General Assembly’s 32nd Session’s 11-day sitting ends on Thursday next week.

End

Day of the Seafarer 2021: Setting a ‘fair future’ for seafarers: DoT-SAMSA

Pretoria: 24 June 2021

For no less than three hours early on Friday, June 25, South Africa’s role and contribution in the shaping of a fair future for seafarers locally and globally will come under the microscope as some of the country’s stakeholders and interested parties in the general wellbeing of these highly skilled yet generally overlooked oceans-based workers gather to mark the International Day of the Seafarer 2021, under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Transport.

The marking of Day of the Seafarer 2021 takes the shape of an online event – for the second year running, owing to the ongoing rampant spread of the Covid-19 pandemic – hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) from its Pretoria-based Head Ofice on Friday morning.

Starting from 9am and scheduled to last until 12 noon, high profile participants on the programme, according to SAMSA, include Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula and his deputy, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, the department’s Acting Director for Maritime Branch Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Ms Soraya Artman of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Mr Musa Mbakaza of AMSOL, Ms Silindokuhle Nyoka of Transnet, and Captain Mike Kelly representing The Mission of Seafarers Association, as well as SAMSA acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane and Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe

Also participating and sharing an international perspective will be Mr Cheah Aun Aun from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.

The theme of the 2021 instalment of the Day of the Seafarer as decided by the International Maritime Organisation is a “Fair Future for Seafarers” – the idea behind it being a continued effort to rally individual maritime country as well as international support for measures to improve and enhance the working conditions as well as the general welfare of seafarers globally.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders earlier this month, SAMSA said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,”

At Friday’s event, with just 100 confirmed attendees, expected to dominate the marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 are activities and related measures being undertaken by particularly the Department of Transport, its agency SAMSA, as well as industry to advance this cause, this especially against unique challenges by seafarers due to the onset and continued international havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in China in late 2019

According to SAMSA, the online event will again be livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook in order to allow the public access. To connect, please click on the link following link: https://fb.me/e/1UMv7h5fr

This blog will also follow proceedings of the event.

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A ‘fair future for seafarers’ is the campaign theme of international Day of the Seafarer 2021: SAMSA/Department of Transport.

Pretoria: 10 June 2021

A ‘fair future’ for seafarers globally should be a shared responsibility between seafarers and the rest of other relevant stakeholders – and that is the view of seafarers themselves according to a current poll being conducted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

This global seafarers’ view is emerging solidly a few weeks ahead of this year’s international marking of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (a Friday) as driven and directed by the IMO along with its Member States, including South Africa.

In the poll currently being conducted by the IMO on its social media pages, among seafarers who responded to a question: “Who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers”; an overwhelming majority (54%) call it a “shared responsibility”.

Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) working jointly with the Department of Transport has confirmed that its marking of the Day of the Seafarer this year would be closely aligned to the issue, consistent with the IMO’s theme for the celebrations on June 25.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders this week, SAMSA states that: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,” says SAMSA.

Among issues likely to feature prominently at the event on June 25 may be the outcomes and insights of a recent South African seafarers survey conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and author, Dr Shaun Ruggunan focused on their personal experiences of the impacts of Covid-19 over the last year.

Dr Ruggunan’s survey supported by SAMSA was conducted from March to end of May this year and its results are currently being collated and studied.

From a Government perspective, notably the UKZN survey took place shortly after South Africa in February 2021 joined other IMO Member States in declaring seafarers as ‘essential workers’ – a recurrent theme in the industry globally in 2020 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2019, and which campaign gained huge support from many organisations worldwide, among them the United Nations.

However, the declaration of seafarers as essential workers earlier this year, even as singularly highly significant, was but one aspect of a basket of sought industry reforms with regards seafarers’ general welfare and work conditions, and some of which continue to be highlighted in a series of regional webinars driven by IMO, its Members States and affiliated organisations.

The first of the IMO regional webinars focused specifically on the question of “Challenges faced by seafarers and identification of best practices during Covid-19 pandemic” was held virtually online for the Eastern and Southern Africa on 21 October 2020, with the lineup of speakers including IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and representatives of UN-OSAA, Stella Maris, ICS as well as Member States: Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles.

The webinars have since covered Eastern and West Africa, East Asia, Western Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Arab States and Mediterranean regions and Latin America

Now, in the lead up to this year’s Day of the Seafarer, the IMO also embarked on the social media poll, where it is asking seafarers across the world to respond and share their views on a number of issues affecting their work and general welfare.

On Covid-19 impacts and about which an IMO asks in one of the question: ‘what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer’, most seafarer respondents (41%) believe it be to be “quarantined access to repatriation and crew change”, followed by “priority vaccinations” (24%), “safe working conditions” (19%) and “enforcement” (16%).

On another question about whether seafarers believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of seafaring and in what direction, the majority seafarers’ view (73%) is that the pandemic has, and for the “worse” while only 15% believe it has done their trade a world of good, and 13% saying it has made no difference.

On the question of the IMO’s campaign in 2021 for a “fair future for seafarers”; 54% of participants feel it has to be a “shared responsibility” with only three (03) percent saying seafarers should be directly and solely in charge, while the rest are split unevenly between a view that it should be “IMO/ILO/Governments” (31%) and that it should be “shipping companies” (12%).

Among the seven questions posed to seafarers by the IMO so far is also one about “what area most needs improvement to ensure a fair future for seafarers” and to which the majority view (46%) suggests it to be “the workplace”, followed by “salaries” (30%), “training” (13%0 and “safety on board” (12%).

On the gradual encroachment of autonomous ships, according to their responses, most seafarers are either “excited” (25%), “unconcerned” (22%) or “accepting” (14%), with only 36% expressing the view that they are “worried”.

On climate change; most (59%) say they are onboard with mitigation efforts while seven (7%) and five (5) say they either could not be bothered (“not my personal responsibility”) or regard it as “unimportant”.

In explaining the seafarers view poll on its social media platforms, the IMO says: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, etc.

“In light of this, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes. The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions (in line with ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention), fair training, fair safety, etc.”

For more on this, please on click on the IMO General Secretary, Mr. Kitack Lim ‘s official message for Day of the Seafarer 2021 below.

Meanwhile in Pretoria, according to SAMSA, South Africa’s marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 on Friday, June 25; will be conducted in similar fashion as last year, virtually online, from 9am and ending at 12 noon.

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Three year nurdles mess clean-up draws to an end; SAMSA

However, even with 38 of 49 metric tons of the plastic pellets recovered, monitoring will continue for four more years.

SAMSA

Pretoria: 29 March 2021

With about 38 metric tons of the approximately 49 MT of nurdles that accidentally fell off a cargo ship and into seawaters off the coast of Durban in 2017 now recovered, the three years clean-up operation of approximately 290 kilometres of coastline since launched has officially been brought to an end, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has announced.

According to SAMSA, the decision to end the three year clean-up operation – taken in consultation with various other interested and involved parties including the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF) KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) – was made on the basis that the residue of nurdles lately observed through monitoring of affected areas, had become negligible and therefore no longer justified continued recovery.

In addition, crucially, the high- and low-density polyethylene pellets were not only found to be non-hazardous, but it had also been established that they had not caused any known or reported damage or harm either to the ecology of the heavily affected area nor to living mammals both inland and at sea.

However, according to SAMSA, monitoring of the South African coastline along the KwaZulu-Natal province will continue for four more years and in the event of a resurfacing of enough quantities of the plastic nurdles, if necessary, another recovery operation will be instituted.

The formal official cessation of the clean-up operation, according to SAMSA – the coordinator of the operation – comes after more than 160 bags of the nurdles, measuring some 38.8MT in weight, were successfully recovered over the three-year period since the accidental spillage occurred in the second half of 2017.

The spillage into sea of the millions of small nurdles in 25-kilogram bags drew domestic and global attention after they were ripped off their transportation containers into the Durban harbour during a massive wind that wreaked havoc on ships in the Durban harbour on 10 October 2017.

Two of the lost containers, off the MSC Susana vessel, were loaded with the nurdles cargo. The nurdles involved, regarded as non-biodegradable, were described as small plastic pellets of about five (5) millimetres in diameter, with a flotation density of 0.91-0.97 grams per cubic centimetre (g/cmᵌ).

Shortly after the incident, SAMSA together with the DEFF, the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Transnet, environmental groups including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, vessel owners, MSC, London based International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd (ITOPF), salvage and emergency group, Resolve Marine; as well as various other parties, launched an extensive and intensive recovery project of the plastic nurdles all along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, but with specific focus on a 290km area of the coast where the pellets found concentration.

The aim of the clean-up operation according to SAMSA, was three-fold (a) to reduce impact on human life, (b) to recover the pellets as quickly as possible (c) and to minimize impact on the environment.

The clean-up operation reliant partly on a scientific modelling to hopefully accurately predict movement of the pellets, would therefore essentially also involve an inspection of almost the entire South African oceans coastline, from Richards Bay through to the Western Cape.

According to SAMSA, the coastline inspection found evidence of nurdles presence in some of the areas, particularly in the Western Cape and some areas of the Eastern Cape. However, the nurdles found here were established to have come mainly from industrial waste discharges rather that from the Durban port ship incident in question. In other areas such as Port St Johns on the Wild Coast, concentrations were very low.

SAMSA says that with concerns also related to ocean currents movements along the Indian Ocean, the pellets might end up polluting the seas along other countries as far as Australia, enquiries were made. But these elicited no clear evidence of such widespread dispersion or leakage over the last three years.

Instead, after both aerial and land inspections, the greatest concentration of the nurdles deposition was found to have occurred largely just north of the Durban port city in an area of coastal high dune concentrations, inshore reefs and beaches as well as river mouths incorporating Addington, Port Dunford, Dokodweni, the Tugela River through to uMhlathuze towards Richards Bay.

SAMSA said final reports of monitoring and recovery by some of its participating partners, the DEFF, the KZZ EDTEA and ITOPF late last year, indicated that “the affected areas have received relatively low levels of recharge of SABIC plastic nurdles and, applying the ‘law of diminishing returns’, all recovery operations on all affected areas to be ceased.”

SAMSA and its partners in the operation would continue to “keep an ear and eye on the ground” for any possibility of nurdles resurfacing, and where deemed necessary, action will be taken to recover them.

Asked what has been done with the recovered 38,8MT of nurdles; SAMSA said these were recycled and used to make park benches dedicated to the late Ms Caroline Reid formerly a secretary of KwaZulu-Natal’s Marine Waste Network. Ms Reid reportedly passed away in July 2018 after being involved a vehicle accident in Durban. She was 41 years old at the time.

Captain Nicholas Stone. Director: Marine Resolve Group

Meanwhile, it has emerged that following to the Durban port nurdles spillage incident, the South African government through the Department of Transport, SAMSA and DEFF is being urged by shipping transport industry players to support a call on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to review shipping containers stowage such as that of plastic nurdles, and where possible, require that such cargo be relocated to the underdeck of cargo spaces of ships.

Parties to the call in South Africa include Resolve Marine whose executive, Mr Nicholas Sloane confirmed his company’s approach to the IMO about the matter.

According to Mr Sloane, prevention of loss at sea of material such as nurdles from ship’s cargo due to sea conditions and related accidents can be achieved with proper, purposeful stowage aboard vessels. This, he says, is necessary also because generally, seafarers manning cargo vessels are not always aware of contents of containers being transhipped.

“With over 3 000 containers lost in the oceans every so often, nurdles are the worst cargo to be lost.” says Mr Sloane.

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Even still gripped by a Covid-19 pandemic, African countries forge ahead with climate change mitigation measures – MTCC-Africa/SAMSA

Pretoria: 01 March 2021

Postponed a year ago due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdown rules promoting social distancing worldwide, an Africa region maritime sector plan of action aimed at contributing to global measures to mitigate against climate change gets underway again this month in the form of an Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition (ConfEx) over four days.

The ConfEx – originally scheduled for Durban, South Africa in June last year, before being scrapped – is being organised by the Mombasa, Kenya-based Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC-Africa), and this time, it will be held virtually online, announced the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) in Pretoria at the weekend.

The MTCC-Africa, is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) and European Commission funded initiative known as the Global MTCCs Network (GMN), with centres also in Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and Pacific regions. Initially funded to the tune of €10 000 000 over four years in 2017, it is geared towards building capacity in the targeted regions for climate mitigation in the world’s maritime shipping industry.

The ConfEx to be held over four days in two successive weeks this month, the first on 17&18 March 2021 and thereafter on 24&25 March 2021 will be staged within context of the IMO MARPOL Annex VI that is concerned with the prevention of air pollution by ships.

The IMO MARPOL Annex VI advances implementation of global regulations to address the emission of air pollutants from ships and the mandatory energy efficiency measures aimed at reducing emission of greenhouse gases from international shipping thereby ensuring that shipping is cleaner and greener.

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Representatives of 13 African countries involved with the IMO Global MTCC Network gathered at the first meeting of the MTCC-Africa branch in Mombasa in December 2017.                                (Photo: Courtesy of Global MTCC Network)

South Africa, an IMO Member State and signatory to the MARPOL Annex VI, is a designated Southern African Region Focal Point of the MTCC-Africa, wherein it is expected to support the agency in promoting technologies and operations aimed at improving energy efficiency in the maritime sector. The Southern African Region consists of Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Mr Kitach Lim. Secretary General. International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

A draft programme of the MTCC-Africa ConfEx event shows IMO Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim and Dr Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary of Kenya’s State Department for Maritime Shipping Affairs as being among a host of high level officials scheduled to grace the occasion.

According to SAMSA at the weekend, in addition to experts and related in the field of climate change in the maritime sector, the MTCC-Africa online ConEx will focus also strongly on developers of energy efficient technologies for the maritime industry who will be provided a platform to exhibit their wares.

“The ConfEx is targeting the Small and Medium-Term Entrepreneurs with innovations focusing on climate change mitigation in the onshore and offshore shipping and maritime industry. The objective is to provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform, with the aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA.

However, because of social distancing regulations in compliance with Covid-19 mitigation measures, keen participants in both the main conference as well as exhibitors would have to book early online in order to claim their space at the ConfEx, said SAMSA.

The online booking details are:

Of the actual conference, said SAMSA: “With climate change affecting all of us, it makes sense to always encourage more people to participate in such events, for various purposes, educationally, economically and otherwise. It is against this background, that this event is open to all interested parties, to learn and or contribute in climate change mitigation and shipping’s transition to decarbonisation.”

For exhibitors: “The Confex will provide a highly interactive knowledge sharing and business networking platform with an aim of connecting like-minded individuals and innovative solution providers from around the world. In addition to this, technological challenges and opportunities in climate action within the international maritime sector will be addressed. The exhibitors can showcase their market ready technologies and innovations,” said SAMSA

SAMSA further states that this was an ideal opportunity for particularly South African and southern African countries’ entrepreneurs to expand their market reach both in Africa and globally. “Under the UNFCCC Paris Climate Conference, member countries agreed to limit global warming to below two (2) degrees Celsius. Shipping under the guidance of the IMO, must play a role in reducing its contribution to the global emissions. Developing countries, which play a significant role in international shipping, often lack the means to improve energy efficiency in their shipping sectors.

“Through technical assistance and capacity building, the MTCC project is there to enable developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing to effectively implement ship energy-efficiency and emissions reduction measures, thereby ssupporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“South Africa is fully behind MTCC-Africa to ensure that it can deliver on its objectives that include; improving regional compliance with existing and future international regulations on energy efficiency for ships; promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations; and raising awareness on the need to reduce Greenhouse Gas and other emissions from the maritime transport sector

“We urge South Africans and Southern Africans, especially entrepreneurs and innovators to take the opportunity presented by the MTCC- Africa and the IMO, of engaging with global counterparts in the development and promotion of energy efficient technologies that can be used by the shipping industry in transitioning to the decarbonised future. It is also an opportunity for many, to learn about the work that the IMO has continually put in place to deliver on the strategic direction entitled “Respond to Climate Change“, as adopted by the IMO Assembly, during its 30th session in December 2017,” said SAMSA

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Women advancement in SA’s maritime sector on a giant historical leap: SAMSA

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South Africa’s first all female cadets and training officers team before sailing out in Cape Town on 27 December 2019 for a three months research and training sojourn into the Indian and Southern Oceans including Antarctica.

Cape Town: 30 December 2019

Women empowerment in South Africa’s maritime sector took on yet another relatively small but highly significant and historical step forward at the weekend in Cape Town after the country despatched an all women cadet and training officers’ team on a three months voyage to the southern seas.

The 22 women- two officers and 20 young female cadets sailed from the port of Cape Town on Friday night, headed for Mauritius where they will be joined in 10 days by a group of Indian scientists for their three months sojourn into the Indian Ocean and Antartica region.

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The 20 all female deck and engine cadets in full uniform on board the SA Agulhas a few hours before their historical training sojourn which will end in March 2020

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) – owners and operators of the SA Agulhas, the country’s only dedicated cadet training vessel – and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) – the country’s agency for cadet training – the latest of three such training opportunities for the country’s cadets out sea was partly made possible by the out hiring of the SA Agulhas ship to the Indian National Centre for Antarctic Ocean Research (ICAOR).

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The SA Agulhas at the port of Cape Town. Owned and operated by the SA Maritime Safety Authority, the ship is South Africa’s only dedicated national cadet training vessel.

Scientists from the ICAOR will be conducting research of the Indian and Southern Oceans waters over a period of two months through to the end of February 2020. During this period, the all female 18 deck and two engine cadets will receive extensive training and earn crucial sea time to advance them through their studies as future mariners.

SAMSA and SAIMI described the send off of an all female cadet team and all female training officers in Cape Town at the weekend  as the first ever such adventure, deliberately aimed at advancing gender parity in the maritime sector through focused advancement of woman.

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From Left: Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services with the master of the SA Agulhas, Captain Reagan Paul in Cape Town on Friday 27 December 2019

Two of the 20 cadets will likely qualify for the Officer of the Watch exam after earning sufficient sea time during this voyage. For several of the cadets, this voyage will be the first time away from home and will be their first ever training opportunity at sea.

SAMSA Acting CEO Mr Sobantu Tilayi emphasized the importance of this particular voyage; “It is important that we use every opportunity we get to open up the maritime industry to all and this voyage is proof that South Africa is on-board with the international drive to empower women and is committed to do away with the notion that the maritime industry is a male dominated industry” said Mr Tilayi.

Mr Ian Calvert, executive head of SAMSA’s Marine Special Services, who was on hand to see off the all female training crew said: “Addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality is the responsibility of all South Africans. Further to this, gender parity in the workspace remains of great concern.

“Today, women signify two percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers with 94 percent of female seafarers working in the cruise ship industry. There can be no doubt this is a historically male dominated industry, subsequently there needs to be a concerted effort to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with 21st century expectations.”

According to Mr Calvert, the historical event send off at the weekend, was not just a uniquely South African initiative that was out of sink with the rest of the world, but a significant contribution to global efforts championed currently by international agencies such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritie Organisation (IMO).

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True to a call: (From Left) Ms Cher Klen and Ms Samantha Montes, the SA Agulhas training officers for the 2019-2020 historical all female cadet training voyage that began on Friday 27 December 2019

He said: “Through its Women in Maritime programme, under the slogan: “Training-Visibility-Recognition”,  the IMO has taken a strategic approach towards enhancing the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. In spite of this, the benefits of these and other initiatives still need to be fully felt in (South) Africa.

“For this particular voyage as a show of our continued commitment to the achievement of gender equality we have specifically dedicated it to the exposure of women in maritime,” said Mr Calvert

DSC_8091.JPGFurther, he said, the initiative was in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, the African Integrated Maritime Strategy, National Development Plan, Operation Phakisa as well as the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy.

“It is an attempt to address gender empowerment and inequalities specifically in South Africa, in the year that the IMO declared The World Maritime Day theme as “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community”.

For Mr Calvert’s remarks on the topic, click on video below.

SA Agulhas Antarctica Voyage 2019: First All Female Training Venture

This blog also chatted with some of the youg female cadets as well as the master of the vessel on this voyage, Captain Reagan Paul, to gain their views and expectations of experience during the next three motnhs. The young cadets, Ms Lona Jiba (Eastern Cape), Ms Puleng Ramasodi and Thabango Ngobeni (both from Gauteng), and Ms Sinethemba Mdlalose (KwaZulu-Natal) were beyond themselves with joy at their first sea voyage and particularly on board the SA Agulhas on its journey to the ice mountains of the Antarctica region.

The blog also heard from one of the onboard training officers, Ms Samantha Montes who’s stated other interest during the voyage would be an observation of the implementation of the Polar Code.

For this and more click on the videos below.

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